‘Radio Hour’ opens River City season
A plaque just inside the front doors of the Leavenworth Performing Arts Center states that the building was founded on Feb. 14, 1977.
Head on into the theatre, however, and be prepared to take another step back in time. You'll be transported to December of 1942. You'll step inside the studio of radio station WOV, a small, low-wattage radio station in New York City.
This is the set for "The 1940s Radio Hour," a musical comedy being performed by The River City Community Players.
"It's not a well-known show," said director Robert Chung, a Leavenworth resident. "But it's got a lot of wonderful music that a lot of people in this area are familiar with. It's all contemporary 1940s music, and the singers and the band are going to do wonderfully with it."
While residents may be familiar with some of the music - included in the show's score are classic hits "Blue Moon," "Chiquita Banana" and "Strike Up the Band" - the show's theme likely will ring a bell with all audience members for another reason: It takes place while the United States is at war.
Today's war is in Iraq, but the musical takes place during World War II. WOV plays host to a weekly production by The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade that is broadcast live in the U.S. with tapes of the show to be sent to the troops overseas.
Audience members play the role of the studio audience for the show, Chung said, although he mentioned "that's not readily apparent in Act One." The show originally was written without an intermission, but Chung said he added one for the 2 1/2-hour performance. The first act lasts about 35 minutes while the variety show is set up in the Algonquin Room of the Hotel Astor.
The real musical begins in Act Two when the 16-piece orchestra takes the stage and the cast sings and dances.
"Once we start the radio show it's about 95 percent is music," Chung said.
Cast member and Lansing resident Joyce Jackson said the audience would love the story and the music.
"Folks are really going to like it because it's nostalgic," she said. "It kind of looks at things from a better time, and at the same time it's honoring the guys who are overseas who have done things for us in the past and who are doing things for us now.
"We don't change anything to bring in the current military, however there is a lot that's said and a lot that's done from that era that's really pertinent today."
The show plans to pay tribute to area residents who served in World War II by providing free admission to those veterans at the 2 p.m. March 11 matinee show.
The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday at the Leavenworth Performing Arts Center, located at Fifth Street and Delaware in downtown Leavenworth. In addition, the show will take place at 8 p.m. March 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.